Ingredients commonly found in major brands
(even products advertised as all-natural or organic):

Lead – known to cause damage to the nervous system and brain. Many lipsticks on the market today (both low and high-end) are often contaminated with lead. Ingredients that may be contaminated with lead (as well as arsenic and mercury) include: HYDROGENATED COTTONSEED OIL, SODIUM HEXAMETAPHOSPHATE, HYDROGENATED COTTONSEED GLYCERIDE, and ALUMINUM STARCH OCTENYLSUCCINATE.

FD&C Dyes - artificial dyes, usually listed as FD&C (Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic) followed by a color and/or number, these dyes are often derived from coal tar and have been linked to reproductive toxicity, neurotoxicity, and cancer. FD&C colors are often tested on animals because they are so toxic.

Micronized Ingredientsminerals that are ground up into tiny particles and may contain nanoparticles, which are usually around 15 nanometers (a nanometer is one billionth of a meter) in size. They are so small that they can potentially be absorbed into the skin and cause biochemical or cellular level changes as well as cancer. There are no labeling regulations for micronized ingredients, so companies are not required to disclose if their products contain them (although many companies do, claiming that micronized particles go on more smoothly).

Carmine – used to color mica pink. Although this ingredient is technically natural since it is derived from the insect coccus cacti, I don't know of any woman who would actually want to put crushed insects on her face.

Bismuth Oxychloride – found in many of the major mineral makeup lines to give skin a sheen or glow. Many people find this ingredient irritating to the skin.

Talc – sometimes contaminated with asbestos. Has been linked to skin, lung, and ovarian cancer.

Parabens – usually listed as methylparaben and propylparaben. Parabens can cause cancer and developmental/reproductive toxicity. They are used as preservatives in cosmetics and many personal care products.

Ferric Ferrocyanide – used to provide blues and purples to eye makeup. Can cause brain and nervous system effects (depressed brain activity). Not approved for use on the lips because of its toxic properties.

Chromium Green Oxide – can cause cancer and organ system toxicity. Not approved for use on the lips.

Ultramarines - Blue and purple pigments added to eye products. These pigments are not approved for use on the lips because they can cause brain and nervous system effects.

Silica Microspheres – Finely ground silica which often contains nanoparticles (see micronized ingredients above).

Phthalates – plasticizers that help makeup stick to the skin and enhance the absorption of other ingredients. Phthalates cause cancer, endocrine disruption, and organ system toxicity. Some common forms of phthalates are: DIETHYL PHTHALATE, DIBUTYL PHTHALATE, and DIETHYLHEXYL PHTHALATE.


source:, a database maintained by the non-profit Environmental Working Group.

It would be impossible to list all of the potentially dangerous ingredients on just one page, so the above were selected because they seem to be the most common.

We encourage you to do your own research to find out more about cosmetic ingredients and make your own decisions about what you are willing to put on your skin. A good place to start is which lists cosmetic ingredients and the known concerns about them. Be careful not to look just at the safety score, though; look at the percentage next to it, which reflects how much is unknown about the safety of an ingredient. For example, you may look up FD&C VIOLET 2 which shows a score of 0 (on a scale of 0 to 10) and think it must be very safe, but the data gap is 100%, which basically means that nothing is known about the ingredient. So, it may be safe, but it may not be. The sad reality is that most of the ingredients in everyday use have not been properly tested.

Click here for a list of the ingredients we do use.



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